Watson Guitars
California, USA

Serial 07G007 - Headless Guitar
Call for pricing: 951 659-8616

Materials: Australian Lacewood top (bookmatched) Mahogany Body - Maple and Pernambuco neck.
Fingerboard: Gabon Ebony with pernambuck fret markers
Pickups: Carey Nordstrand NVH Humbuckers (bridge pickup switchable to single coil)
Bridge: ABM headless
Hardware: Chrome
Tuners: ABM (Combined in Bridge assembly)

The body of this guitar has a core that matches the neck laminates of Maple and Pernambuco (a wood normally used for violin bows) When assembled, the bolt-on configuration looks much like like a neck-through guitar. The remainder of the body is made of Honduras Mahogany and the decorative top is Australian Lacewood.

We installed Nordstrand NVH humbucking pickups and the both pickups are switchable to single-coil.

Right and Below: (11/17/07) Not only is this beautiful guitar now complete, but it was picked up today by Joe, its proud new owner. We have had several guitar players test it out and received excellent feedback on its sound, feel and playability.

Yesterday evening we had guitar great Jody Fisher come round and give the instrument a run for its money. He made it sing like a bird for 45 minutes. He was very complimentary about it too.

Since the Nordstrand humuckers are both switchable to single coil mode, the instrument has a LOT of sound. Anything from a Les Paul to a Telecaster sound and everything in between. Very clean, probably due to the maple and pernambuco in the neck and body, plus the Nordstrand Pickups are very punchy.

The cavity cover snaps on with our usual magnet system holding it in place. The overall look on the back is very clean. The guitar weighs in at a modest 7.5lbs. It is fitted with locking strap buttons and a Neutrix locking jack plug.

Left: (11/15/07) We are getting close to completion on this guitar. Here is a photo of the completed wiring in the control cavity. We discovered that we were able to split coils in both pickups, due to the configuration of our selector switch. This will add some extra tonal adjustment to the instrument.

Also today we finished dressing the frets, finished cutting the slots in the nut and added the chrome control knobs. I also created a black copver for the toggle switch to match the rest of the hardware. The serial number was added to the body and the magnets were installed to secure the control cavity cover.

Right: (11/14/07) The photo on the right shows the guitar strung up for the first time. One of the trickiest procedures at this stage is cutting the slots in the nut so that each string is sitting at its optimal depth. Although that is still under way - the guitar plays very nicely. Frets have been leveled and dressed. Also the control potentiometers and the selector switches have been installed in preparation for the internal wiring.

We hope to get the instrument wired up and playable today. I will post further comments when that's done.

After that - there are a few cosmetic adjustments to be done and the instrument will be ready for its customer to pick up.

Left: (11/7/07) Today we were busy adding hardware to the guitar. On the lower right of the photo, you can see that the Neutrix locking jack socket has been installed.

Also, I measured and located the bridge and installed that in its proper position. I cleaned out and sealed the recesses for the control knobs and test-fit the potentiometers and selector switches - all of which seem to fit just fine.

Next up is the positioning and fitting of the tailpiece/tuner block. This is a pretty straightforward operation but, as with everything else, care must be taken to position the unit in just the right place. Finally - I will have to drill a small hole for a ground wire which connects the external hardware to the electronics.

Right: (11/4/07) Here's a closer look at the neck-to-body joint. The neck is neld on using stainless steel screws and nickel plated washers that distribute the load from the screws. This allows for more than enough pressure to hold the neck securely.

Also in the photo you can see the use of the double pinstripes of veneer to highlight the tapered laminates in the neck and the body. This adds a bit of time and extra work at the early stage of building but it's worth it once all the parts come together.

The maple and pernambuco are cut fom the same parent material so that wood grain and color match perfectly.

Left: (11/4/07) We fitted and bolted the neck onto the body for the first time today. The combined assembly feels good so far. There may be some minor adjustments to do when the bridge is on and the guitar is strung up but alignment seems right on the money.

Balance is also good and the instrument is very light. I'll be interested to see what it's net weight will be when all the hardware has been attached.

Right: (11/3/07) Part of today's work was to line the control cavity and the two pickup cavities with copper shielding tape. This will protect the instrument's signal from 'rf' interference. Normally for a humbucking setup such as this one, this would be less necessary, but this guitar will have the ability to split the coils in the bridge pickup. In single coil mode, the shielding will play an important part in noise reduction.

I also finished cleaning out all of the overspray from the control knob recesses, neck bolt recesses and strap button holes.

The strap locking hardware has also been installed. We hope to have this instrument ready to play within the week!

Left: (10/27/07) Although the neck and body are not yet fitted (requires removal of some overspray from the finishing process) I wanted to show the effect of the matched body and neck laminates. The flamed Maple has a very pronounced figure in it which is common to both the body and neck laminates. The Pernambuco has a beautiful golden color which shines under the light.

You can also see in this photo the matching control cavity cover. This will be attached with magnets and can be removed using a small and discreet finger recess. (I have the look of screws holding on covers!) The four holes that can be seen on the back of the body are recessed for chrome pressure washers which distribute the pressure of the screws holding the neck to the body

Right: (10/22/07) Here's a shot of the back of the body. You can see the maple and pernambuco core section looks good - he flame on the maple came out really well here and on the neck also.

The dark body halves are honduras mahogany which has been stained to a dark wine color. Fausto at All Wood Finishing did an amazing job of masking off the lighter woods in order to stain the mahogany. The transition between the two is a perfect hard line - I don't know how he does it!

The four recesses on the left are to hold the metal inserts that distribute the load of the retaining screws that hold he neck on.

Left: (10/19/07) The body and neck of this guitar have just been tinted and finished. We applied a golden brown tint with a subtle sunburst effect. The result is a warm color which really shows off the grain of the Australian Lacewood top.

The highlights in the wood catch the light as you move the body, beautiful to look at but difficult to do justice to it in a photograph!

I now have quite a bit of work to clean up the control cavities and the neck joint etc. to make everything fit after a thick coat of glass-like Polyester Resin. I will post photos of the back and neck soon, plus pictures of the assembled parts after I get the neck to fit

Left: (9/10/07) Here's a more recent photo taken just after the neck pocket had been machined into the body, allowing me to attach the neck to the body and get a better impression of what the finished instrument will look like. I like the way the bolt-on neck emulates a neck-through instrument with the maple and pernambuco laminates.This is a cool little instrument and we're looking forward to seeing the finished result!

Get your order in soon for this one - I expect it will go quickly!!

Above: (9/10/07) Here's a shot of the body and neck assembly after machining the neck pocket. The guitar feels light, compact and ready to rock and roll. Next up is shaping the neck and maybe putting some inlay in the fingerboard.

This will definitely be an unusual one-of-a-kind instrument. The Australian Lacewood to will come up looking beautiful after the gloss finish is applied.

I expect we will have this instrument with us at the 2008 NAMM show. Come and check it out!

Above: (7/8/07) We have had to suspend work on this instrument until our 3 basses for Chicago are complete. Here you can see the body shape and the roughed out neck.

Above:(7/8/07) This interesting photo shows the continuity of the maple and pernambuco laminates from the body section through the neck section.Although this is a bolt-on neck, I wanted to create the impression of neck-through construction from the back of the instrument.

Left: (3/31/07) The body pieces (maple, pernambuco and mahogany) have been glued together and the body shape has been roughly cut out. You can see the area at the back of the body which is relief for the tuners which will stick out from the back of the body.

This photo shows our vacuum press where the back section of the guitar being glued to a thin section of mahogany which will in turn be a backing piece to the decorative Lacewood top.

The assembly will then be trimmed closer to finished size and we will use the CNC to cut chambers on the front side and a control cavity on the back.

We recently glued the neck and body components together. The center 'core' of the body matches the laminates in the construction of the neck.
The plan with this guitar is that when the neck is bolted onto the body, it will actually look like a neck-through instrument from the back. Should be a nice aesthetic feature.

Right: Here you can see the neck section on the CNC, having just cut the center slot for the double-acting truss rod and the two other slots which will receive carbon fiber reinforcing rods.

These carbon fiber rods will now be secured into the neck using aerospace grade epoxy resin.

We'll drop the truss rod in when the fingerboard is glued on to the neck assembly.

Left: here is a shot of the proposed body shape and Lacewood top for this guitar. Since this is shown here with unfinished wood, the actual woodgrain will show much more impressively on the finished product.

Above: Gluing some Pernambuco tapered strips onto maple veneer in our vacuum press for later assembly into the body and neck laminates of the instrument.

To get this project started we ordered headless guitar hardware from ABM. This consists of three separate components - a tailpece/tuning assembly, an adjustable bridge and a string retainer for the end of the neck. (See photo on the right).

The ABM components are German made and the quality seeme to be very good. Finished (in this case Chrome) are consistent and the mechanical parts seem to work smoothly. Since we are putting these parts on high-end guitars we have to use top quality hardware. From our initial impressions, these parts should work very well on our headless instruments.

We had to get hold of these parts at the outset of the building process because we will be building the neck dimensions (primarily the neck width) based on physical measurements taken from these parts.

Next step is to do some calculations to establish neck dimensions and to design a body style that will incorporate the tuner assembly.

Also, the measured height of the bridge will tell us what the angle of the neck should be relative to the body. Once we have these calculated sizes we can start cutting up some wood.

Last update November 17, 2007